Submitted by: Lorraine Matthews Antosiewicz
I get asked this question all the time. What do you think of juicing? The short answer – it can play a beneficial role in any wellness program if used properly. Drinking a nutritious juice every once in a while (even everyday) can be healthy, but it can also do more harm than good when it’s taken to the extreme. Consuming only juice for weeks is not the magic bullet proponents are claiming it to be; and it can be downright dangerous.
So what is juicing exactly?
Juicing is a process which extracts water and nutrients from produce and discards the indigestible fiber. Advocates of juicing believe that without all the fiber, your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food and absorb the nutrients. Juicing is being heralded for weight loss, body detoxification, and the treatment and prevention of everything from the common cold to cancer.
Can juicing help me detox?
When it comes to detoxing, there is no substantiated scientific evidence to affirm that the body needs an outside source to accomplish this. Our body does an excellent job of detoxing itself; our liver, kidneys, lungs, and intestines filter the unwanted toxins from our body and expel them through urine, bowel movements, breath and sweat. From a “cleansing” perspective, the most beneficial natural “colon cleanse” is actually dietary fiber. It is needed to produce regular bowel movements which remove waste and toxins from the body; in addition, fiber feeds the good bacteria in our gut that play an important role in keeping our immune system working properly. Unfortunately, it is stripped away during the process of juicing. Fiber offers other important health benefits as well. It provides satiety keeping us feeling full after eating, lowers cholesterol, and regulates blood sugar. All of these benefits are missing from juice.
Will juicing help me lose weight?
With regard to weight loss, juicing can be part of a healthy eating plan if done sensibly. In order to have a nutritionally complete weight loss plan, you will need to include adequate protein and fat, along with the carbohydrates and micronutrients from juice, to keep your body functioning properly. Replacing all or most solid food with juice is not a good idea. You probably will lose weight because you’re cutting out all of the fat from your diet and drastically lowering your caloric intake. But you’ll most likely put it right back on when you start eating whole foods again because the weight you lost was mostly water weight. And as with most very low calorie diets, when the body thinks it’s starving, it lowers metabolism because it doesn’t know when it’s going to get more food. If you do this often and long enough, it could potentially lower your metabolism permanently. It is not an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. Instead, the most successful weight-loss strategies are sustainable, meaning you can incorporate them into your lifestyle long-term.
Is eating whole fruits and vegetables better than juicing?
In general, eating whole fruits and vegetables is better than juicing. The healthiest diets include whole grains, lean sources of protein, healthy fats, and, yes, whole fruits and vegetables. For a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, the latest recommendation is to consume about nine servings or 4 – 5 cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2 – 3 cups of vegetables). However, if you find that you are unable to eat this much, then drinking your veggies and fruit in the form of a juice can be beneficial. And if you’re willing to replace your usual midmorning doughnut with a juice, it’s hard to argue against that.
What about a Smoothie?
Here’s another (probably better) option… blend up a smoothie. Blending simply combines all the ingredients you place in your blender, leaving the pulp and fiber intact. When trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight, smoothies can be used as a meal replacement or a snack. For example, drink a dairy-based (or dairy alternative-based) smoothie for breakfast and a water-based smoothie as a snack. Fruit and veggie smoothies can be a healthy addition to any eating plan as long as you maintain balance and portion control.
About the Author: Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS RD, is a food and nutrition expert specializing in weight management and digestive health. She is committed to empowering people through education, support, and inspiration to make real changes that lead to optimal health and lasting weight loss. Take her Free Self-Assessment and learn how you can lose 20 lb. – or more. Jump Start your weight loss today!